Big Lead Sports Bar


Pens Lose, and I Still Hate Boston

I hate all things Boston, and I hate watching the Pens struggle in shootouts, so Thursday was what you would call a bad night all around. It wasn't as bad as Tuesday, when I subjected myself to Employee of the Month on DVD (wow...that was a BIG mistake), but it was still pretty bad.
I was already in an irritable Pens mood after hearing the news that Jason Blake was fined his lunch money for his blatant spear on Sidney Crosby on Tuesday night. Wow, $1,000. What a hit to Blake's reputation and pocket book. You'll never hear accusations of NHL refs manipulating the rules for Crosby like the NBA did for MJ. Although I do remember a certain #99 getting a good number of calls while his Pittsburgh counterpart played the majority of his career with a defender stuck to him like a conjoined twin. I believe the phrase of the day was "Garage League"?
Then I started hearing some theories/excuses as to why Blake did it. One school of thought suggests that Islander coach Ted Nolan was ticked at Crosby's presence on the ice with the Pens up 5-2 and just 30 seconds left in the game. Apparently Mr. Nolan thought that it was a blatant attempt to try and achieve a hat trick. The nerve of Crosby and Therrien.
That being said, Therrien should know better than to leave Sid out there in a meaningless situation with the way the refs have been, how should I say...less-than-protective of Crosby. But I'm still not letting Nolan off the hook.
Don't forget, Ted Nolan's an angry dude. He's been in NHL exile since 1997, when the Sabres canned him and the rest of the league gave him blackball treatment seen recently by Rafael Palmeiro in baseball. He's always looking for an excuse to hate on any team other than the one employing him, because the Islanders were the ones who rescued him from the Moncton Wildcats. So you have to take his actions with a grain of salt.
I've tired of many things in sports over the years, but this crap about pulling all your stars if you have a lead is among my biggest pet peeves. "Sending a message from the coach" is the phrase most commonly heard. A coach doesn't like what's going on, he sends in the goonery. John Chaney did this at Temple in 2005, and an innocent St. Joe's player got injured as a result. And the player does what he's told, or else he loses cred with the coach. Do you think that scrub at Temple was going to tell John Chaney that he wouldn't hit the St. Joe's player with a hard foul?
Recently, we just saw Isiah Thomas threaten Carmelo Anthony at the Garden, and you see how that ended up. Thanks for giving the NBA critics something else to endlessly loop on SportsCenter, Isiah. And since Thomas is probably as popular as Nolan within their respective sports, you can begin to see the reasons why. Coincidence this is not.
Who's to say what is a big enough lead? Is it not up to the coaches to decide how long their players will play? The ironic part is that coaches like Nolan and Thomas will tell you that it's poor sportsmanship on the part of the team owning the lead. But let me get this straight...setting off a riot or spearing a player who doesn't even have the puck is OK?
This is not little league. These guys are paid professionals (well, not the Temple guys...but you get my point). If you're so horrible that you have to physically harm your opponent to get them out of the game, then you don't deserve that paycheck you get. Although I most assuredly bet you'll cash it anyway. Check your feelings at the door, and speak volumes through your play and effort. Save the "messages" for the chat room.
But ANYWAY...there was a game tonight, and it was pretty entertaining, despite all of my above complaints. The Pens had a few highlight-reel goals, including a spectacular Crosby-Recchi-Malone play that resulted in The Midnight Mayor of the South Side* lighting the lamp. But I thought the story of the game was Marc-Andre Fleury. He made so many saves tonight that he had no business making...well, it was simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, as soon as I saw the clock tick to 0:00 in regulation, I started to lose confidence in a two-point evening for the Pens. They are simply not a good team once we get past the 60 minute mark. Their 8 OT losses are surpassed only by the Florida Panthers, who probably have some really frustrated fans.
I thought we wouldn't even get a sniff at the shootout once Sergei Gonchar got called for what I think was a "ticky-tack" penalty with 1:20 left in the extra frame. Then, Rob Scuderi slowed up on what would have been a 3-on-1, which tweaked my blood pressure more than a little. But the Pens and Fleury held off the Bruins and found their way to the shootout. Happy happy, joy joy.
The lineup tonight was Christensen, Malkin, Crosby, and Gonchar in the hole, if needed. Christensen did his party with a beeeauty, and Malkin was stoned on the second chance. Next up was Crosby, who brought an 0-for-4 into the attempt. Unfortunately, he extended his misery, and extended the shootout in the process. This clearly wasn't Gonchar's night, not after the OT penalty, and certainly not after getting stuffed on his at-bat. Could've been-Penguin Phil Kessel lit the lamp for the B's, and the Pens are sent home with one point.
Next up is Toronto on Saturday night, and the Leafs currently rest one point above the Pens in the East. The Leafs usually travel with a Steeler-like entourage, so I fully expect some heated fan interaction in one of Pittsburgh's many fine drinking establishments on Saturday night. I just hope the game doesn't end up in a shootout.
*I'm not stealing the nickname. This was a Mark Madden creation, and I love it.


Jonny Van Mundegaarde said...

Great recap of the game, and commentary on the goonery still going on in the "new" nhl. Crosby's been getting beaten up since he came in that it's almost as if Bettman condone's it. Why a commishioner would let this happen to one of the best up and coming players in the league is beyond me. Maybe Mario needs to have a little talk with Assho-I mean Commish...but he has enough stuff on his plate at the moment.

The Duke from Dukes Court said...

As for sending a message:

I generally agree with your message however i can think of a few similar scenarios when i think it was the right thing to do.

I do like it when an NHL coach will send out his goons at the end of a playoff game to start a fight in an effort to get his players fired up for the next game in the series.

I distinctly remember Ivan "the terrible" sending out Kristof Oliwa to sucker punch a Sabers player after a humiliating loss in the playoffs, subsequently the Pens won the next game and the series {if memory serves me correctly}.

C_Reg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C_Reg said...

Last time the Leafs were in town I told those flappy headed, beady eyed canuck bastards to go back where they belong. If you like Modesi's House come on over to The Dock Ellis Experience, its also full of great Pitt-centric rhetoric.

Geeves said...

1) if you have a quality team, it shouldn't take goonery (there is a difference between goonery and picking a fight to defend against your star player getting attacked) to get them fired up.

2) that whole "leaving your stars in late" thing is crap. we have seen NUMEROUS times where a team has erased a big lead (ala the pens in washington earlier this year), you can never really be comfortable with a lead unless it's something like tonight, 8-2 with 5+ left.